Category Archives: Learning

Holiday Traditions: An Italian Christmas Book

When I was a little girl my mother would read us a book about holiday traditions. It told us about all of the ways that other cultures and countries celebrated. My mother’s grandfather came to America when he was a teenager. He came all the way from Italy at the age of 13, without his parents, and without his siblings. He came to work in America and eventually start a family of his own and create his own traditions. My great-grandfather was so passionate about America that he let many of his Italian traditions stay in Italy. Except for his Christmas traditions. Those he kept close.

So it made sense that every year all of us grandchildren learned just as much about Old Befana as we did Santa Claus. My mother read us the Legend of Old Befana every Christmas, of an old italian woman searching for the Christ Child. I remember the book very plainly. But had not seen it in years. So I was surprised to see it in the bookstores this holiday season. Originally published in 1980 it has been reissued this year. Now I can bring it home and share it with my own children and renew the tradition that has lasted for so many generations in my family.

olf befana

Just like Santa, Old Befana delivers presents to the little girls and boys that have been good, and lumps of coal to those that have been bad. She uses her broom to sweep away the bad things of the year and usher in good things for the new year. The Legend of Old Befana is a great traditional story for any Italian family, or any family looking to learn about other cultures.

Giving Thanks: Make a Gratitude Wall

This yer my family has been very lucky and privileged to do a lot of traveling and see a lot of different places. We made it to two big cities on our travel bucket list. We did a lot of sight seeing and learned a lot of historical things about the cities, and our country.

As with any travel we spent a lot of money, more than I would have chosen to spend. But we are very lucky to work hard and had the opportunity to put money away for these trips. Not everyone can do that. While on our trips we also saw a lot of people, people from all sorts of different walks of life. Since we visited big cities we also so a lot of people that live in abundance, and those that live with nothing. It brought up some questions with my kids. They were curious. They had seen homeless and people that lived on the streets before. But big cities have so many it is hard not to feel and see the difference.

When we returned home we began talking about things that can be done for people who are not as fortunate as we are. My children’s school does a toy drive for less fortunate kids every holiday season. We have already chosen to donate for each child attending the school. However, we also wanted to do something to remind us just why we are as fortunate as we are. We wanted to thank the universe for the life we have been lucky enough to live.

In the past we have done a thankful turkey, we put little paper feathers in it that we all write something we are thankful for every day of November. However, a mouse invaded our attic this year and our poor turkey was destroyed. So this year I was in search of something new. And lo and behold I found the Gratitude Wall, thank you to Livingly.com for the incredible inspiration.

Livingly.com created this simple version here. We have a large chalkboard in our living room and have chosen to use it as our board. But we have chosen to write something we are grateful for every day. Today I wrote that I was thankful for my healthy family. Health has always been a struggle this time of year, and this year I am thankful that we are able to enjoy the season with our health intact. What would you write for today?

 

Best Books: Her Right Foot

The Statue of Liberty has been an icon to the American people for centuries. We all know her history, she was a gift from the French and she stands tall in New York City. But do we know her story?

Dave Eggers introduces the story of the Statue of Liberty in this tongue-in-cheek tale, Her Right Foot. Eggers brings the Statue to life and with pieces from her history shapes a story of her background giving us all a little taste of what it truly means to be American.

Her Right Foot

Lady Liberty has been a symbol to American’s for centuries. She has greeted immigrants from the sea. American’s and other visitors from around the world have traveled to visit this distinguished lady in her home on the small island near New York. She has been there to greet everyone since she was placed there so long ago. But now we can hear her own story, how she came to be here, who she is, and why she is there to greet all who come to see her.

Her right foot is a poignant tale that will open up a world of topics to your kids. Why did our country form? Why is America so unique and so special? Where do we come from? When did our family come to America? Use this fun story to teach a little about the history of America, Lady Liberty, and your own family.